Sunbeams

It has not been the summer most of us would have wished. The weather has been uncertain; the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to disrupt lives and cause grief; while natural disasters — floods, fires, hurricanes — and political convulsions —most strikingly, the agony being undergone by the people of Afghanistan — have contributed to a sense of weariness, amounting at times to hopelessness. Wherever we look we see corruption and failed leadership from which the Church herself is far from exempt.

When everything seems so gloomy, it is time to look for the sunbeams: for the kindness we encounter, the unexpected help given us, the beauty of the world, the hint of God’s presence. That doesn’t mean pretending everything is marvellous when clearly it isn’t. Here at the monastery the last few weeks have been quite trying but it would be churlish to concentrate on the negative. Those little flashes of insight, that moment of luminous silence, the baby’s smile or the peaceful sleep of the very old may not amount to very much, considered individually, but together they remind us that the world is a good place to be. It is not being experienced as such by everyone, but we can help make it so for some.

Even if only one person is affected by what we are or do, we shall have played a part in cherishing the world — a world God loved so much he sent his only Son to redeem it. If talk of sunbeams seems embarrassingly twee, there is the awesome figure of the Sun of Justice to contemplate. It just depends how we see things. As Joseph Plunkett wrote:

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice — and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

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9 thoughts on “Sunbeams”

  1. This Brilliant blog, supported by the thought provoking poem has helped me to feel cocooned by God’s love … beyond my understanding … but with an urge to try to do my part … as a little sunbeam!

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  2. In a world where many people use several words when just a few would suffice, you, Sister, have the knack of making one or two words mean so much. In an earlier blog you spoke of “immortal diamond”, and today of sunbeams. These have helped me greatly. Thank you.

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  3. Wonderful reminders that we all have a part to play. These ‘strange’ days find me looking despairingly at the world & feeling overwhelmed & helpless – then I remember the Sunday school chorus “…you in your small corner, & I in mine.” I frequently find myself humming that as I try to let His light shine through me in my little corner of influence!

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  4. Two non-sequiturs I’m happy to admit to, as you are all (so far!) being nice about this post. 1. I am devoutly hoping that no one is going to start singing ‘Jesus wants me for a sunbeam’. Quelle horreur. 2. There’s a lovely description of the young Jesus sliding down a sunbeam in the apocryphal gospels. The story is illustrated in several medieval MSS, of which the most famous is probably the Holkham Bible.

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    • It has been said, by a previous Archbishop of York, that the definition of heaven is (a) the ice never melts in your gin and tonic, (b) the thurible is always full and (c) no-one knows the words of “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam”.

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